Diabetes has tried to rob me of movement since the age of 14, and I am still fighting for my right to move and function fully at age 59. The fight to thwart the effects of diabetes rages around the world. In America alone, 29.1 million or 9.3% of the population had diabetes (National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014). The American Diabetes Association stated that the disease was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2010.
With a family history of Type 1 diabetes on both sides (my mother and my dad’s brother), my parents thought my diagnosis was somewhat of a death sentence for me. My father was determined to delay the onset of complications. He made me run every morning. I absolutely hated running. He also encouraged me to move in many forms, including dance, which I loved. Movement in any form made me feel better.
I kept things under control until college but ended up on insulin in my freshman year. Time passed with a few health challenges. I worked a couple of jobs during and after college trying to find my path in life. I also took up ballroom dance, which made me feel like I could conquer anything. After college I ended up in my first full career as a junior apparel buyer in Hawaii. I loved the job, the travel, and the fashion industry. I joined a gym at first, craving movement and finding my body responding to working out. With travel demands and wonderful meals when going to market in New York and Los Angeles, I started going to the gym less. I danced less. I moved less.
Meanwhile my mother, a Type I insulin dependent diabetic despite being a trim 110 pounds, starting have increasing complications while living in Florida. She tried aquatic exercise, which for a time helped. Then she started moving less and eventually passed from a heart attack.
You think I would have a wakeup call, right? Not yet. My decrease in movement continued as I traveled more and my diet continued to worsen. I started to lose control of my own diabetes.
Shortly after my mother passed away, my father lost his bladder and prostate from bladder cancer. Now my once jolly father was fading. My father, who also lived in Hawaii, asked me to quit my job, move him to Florida and take care of him part-time. Not wanting to lose both parents, I did what he asked and we moved to Florida.
With my new situation I needed a job that would let me set my own hours. My father suggested that I go into the fitness industry. So I did. I first became a personal trainer and went to people’s homes and worked for different venues. Then I discovered the world of Pilates. I finally found my calling. Pilates was a way of working out through which I was able to trim down, strength train while working on posture and flexibility, and was able to manage my blood sugar control in a way that I never had.
In 1997 I experienced both lows and highs. The low was that my father eventually fell to cancer. However, a little while later I opened my first Pilates studio in the area, which was terribly exciting. In 2002 I met the man of my dreams. Unfortunately it was here that my earlier loss of control of my diabetes came back into play and some serious complications started to happen.
Stay tuned for part 2 in this series: Diabetic Complications and Pilates and Movement as Post-Rehab